Al-Hilal, the reigning champions from Saudi Arabia, advanced through the semi-finals. After scoring the winning goal at the end of the game, defeated Foolad, a club from Iran with a score of 1-0 in the AFC Champions League 2022, quarter-finals at Al Janoub Stadium.
Despite Al Hilal’s complete dominance in the opening quarter of an hour, it was Foolad who came closest to opening the scoring at Al Janoub Stadium on three consecutive occasions.
First, Roberto Torres’ excellent delivery into the box was headed just over the crossbar by Hamid Bou Hamdan, then Ehsan Pahlavan forced a fine save from Abdullah Al Mayouf after firing in from a narrow angle, while the Al Hilal goalkeeper had to recover and make a second excellent save after initially dropping the ball into the path of Torres.
Al Hilal came back into the second half with more urgency, and with Saud Abdulhamid replacing Nasser Al Dawsari and he looked to make an instant impact, sneaking behind Pahlavan who misjudged a high ball, allowing the right-back to cross but goalkeeper Cristopher Knett tipped it back into play and Luciano Vietto overhit the rebound far into the stands.
Possibly Al Hilal’s most dangerous chance of the game arrived an hour into the game following a quick exchange of passes on the edge of the area which saw the ball reach Vietto and the Argentine curled it towards the bottom corner, drawing a fantastic flying save from Austrian goalkeeper Knett.
Coach Hamidreza Rajabi’s men were inches away from finding a winner as Torres’ out-swinging cross from the corner found youngster Amin Hazbavi and the 19-year-old defender beat Al Mayouf with a header, but could not beat the crossbar as the ball bounced back to him and he skied his second attempt.
The breakthrough finally came just three minutes from the end of 90 with substitute Saleh Al Shehri feeding Marega with a fine pass and the Malian forward took control and applied his trademark finish from the right into the bottom corner to win it for Al Hilal.
The last obstacle on Al Hilal’s march towards a fifth continental final in the last nine years will be Qatar’s Al Duhail SC, who advanced to the semi-final after defeating Al Shabab FC 2-1 earlier on Thursday.
Credit Photo : AFC